Study suggests social smoking may be as harmful as daily smoking - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Study suggests social smoking may be as harmful as daily smoking

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -

Many people may think an occasional cigarette is less harmful to their heart than smoking on a regular basis.  However, new research shows that's not the case.

"Social smoking does put your physical health at risk particularly for high cholesterol as well as high blood pressure," said Ohio State University's Bernadette Melnyk, Ph.D. 

Dr. Melnyk was the lead researcher on a recent study that shows social smoking may be just as harmful as daily smoking.  Researchers surveyed 40,000 people, 10% of whom called themselves social smokers and 17% of whom considered themselves current smokers.  Among that group, they found about 75% had high blood pressure and 54% had high cholesterol.

"College-aged people, even young to middle age adults, it is fairly common for people to go out and smoke socially," said

Dr. Melnyk says health care providers need to get better at identify social smokers, not just those who are addicted, and offer them solutions to help them quit.

"Cardiovascular disease is still the number one killer of Americans.  I mean, we are living in an era where this cardiovascular disease can also be largely prevented with healthy lifestyle behaviors," said Dr. Melnyk.

Some changes she suggests are increasing physical activity, eating a healthy diet, drinking in moderation and refraining from all forms of smoking.

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